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Murder in the Great Big Playground

A tale of real estate, murder, politics and really great powder: Chapter 9

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By Katherine Fawcett

The truth was, Rory couldn’t focus anywhere but on Janna’s derriere as it sashayed past the stone fireplace away from him. Oh, she was a package of Christmas morning. Her hips rocked hypnotically from side to side and Rory didn’t notice the trickle of saliva that meandered down the side of his face. He also didn’t notice the old man hitting him on the side of the head with a newspaper.

“Hey shithead.” Whack. “Numbnuts.” Thwack.

“Oh! Ah, sorry Mr. Rumswitz,” said Rory, shaking himself out of his reverie and wiping his chin. His sweaty hand still gripped whatever it was Janna had slipped him. “What’s up?”

“Have you seen this?” Bits of meatball clung to his wormy lips. “This is what I’ve been trying to avoid, you little schmuck.”

The Pique was folded back to the Partial Recall section, which featured a shot of Mumu spilling out of her tank top, bleary-eyed and shiny-haired, petting the bicep of a bartender at the GLC.

“Gee Mr. Rumswitz, She looks really... I mean, I’m so sorry, I guess I should have been…” Rory stammered. But no. That was the old Rory. “Actually, sir, I’m not a marriage counsellor. I’m not a babysitter. I’m a professional snowboarder and,” he lowered his voice and tipped his eyebrows downward, “your private investigator. Nothing more. I can’t change what she does. I can’t take the sugar out of a tart. I can’t make her love you. I can only report on what she does. Besides. Look at the date. This is from weeks ago.”

Rory took a closer look. Mumu’s hair consumed most of the frame, but something in the background caught his eye. It looked an awful lot like Chuck. That was definitely Chuck! Who was he with? Wasn’t that Barb McCann? Minty’s housecleaner? What were they doing together? Was he whispering something in her ear? Or kissing her neck?

Rumswitz grabbed the newspaper and stormed away in a lumbering huff. Rory looked around for Janna. She was gone. He had to talk to her about Barb; she was connected to both Minty and Chuck. Everyone knew she was broke after her lawsuit with VANOC over the “Olympic Cleaning Services” name. And wasn’t her company famous for their cash-in-hand, “Get High, Tidy up and Snoop” policy? And, she had access to all Minty’s personal life and effects.

Looking down, Rory suddenly remembered. He slowly opened his hand. Lifting up the bright pink fabric, he gave it a shake before he could tell what it was. What the…? Rory grabbed his coat and ran out the front door towards Minty’s house, where he knew she’d be waiting. He couldn’t believe that Janna St. James had pressed her panties into his hand.

“Janna!” He banged on the door. “It’s me! Open up!” The door swung open and she flew into his arms, kissing him hard. “Janna. Wait. I want this too, but I need to tell you —” Mmphf mmphf. She was kissing him again.

“It’s about the mur—.” Tongue this time.

He held her shoulders away from him. Opened his mouth to speak. But something about Janna’s smeared lipstick, her big Japanimation eyes and the way she was unbuttoning her shirt made him forget what he was going to say.

Rory yanked his fleece and T-shirt over his head. Static made his hair stand straight up. She grabbed him by the belt loops, and pressed her chest against him. Static could not be blamed for the other body parts in the room that were also defying gravity. Murder schmurder. He held her face in his hands and kissed her like he was in a pie eating contest and she was lemon meringue.

“Spare room,” she growled and started down the hall. “Follow me.”

He tripped taking his boots off. Hopping. Kicking. Lost a sock. She threw her shirt over a plant. He whipped his belt off and chucked it into down the hall. A cat meowed from somewhere. A bra landed on the ceiling fan. She fell backwards onto the bed. He tumbled after her. She held him by the hair. Their lips mashed together. Exploring. Remembering. Tasting. He reached behind her waist to undo her skirt, but got confused. It had been a while since he’d undressed a real woman. And this was a wraparound job. With a button on the inside. Somewhere.

“Let me,” she said after she could no longer bear his fumbling.

Rory remembered that it had been a very long time since his last shower. He casually tipped his head down and to the left and inhaled discreetly to check himself. Not bad. But there was a funny odour. “Is this your room?” he said.

“No, mine’s upstairs. Barb’s been staying here.”

Rory stopped. “Barb, the house-cleaner?”

“Yeah. But don’t worry, she’s gone for a while. Who cares?” She finally dropped her skirt onto the floor and flipped over, naked as a pre-paint Cornucopia model, pinned him down by the wrists and kissed his collarbone.

“Wait,” said Rory, sitting up. “Where did she go? How do you know?”

“God. What’s your problem?” Janna sat up on the side of the bed. “You’re really concerned with that old bag, eh?” She folded her arms over her chest and crossed her legs. “She and Hiroshi went somewhere together. I saw the map. It was taped together but I could tell it was way past Pemberton.” She looked around, frowning, sniffed twice. “Ew. Is that you?”

“This is too confusing. Janna, What do you know about Barb and Chuck? I think they had something going on.”

“Mess-up? Never. Chuck was seeing Minty. Gamma would never have tolerated sharing him. It was OK for HER to date others, but she held her firm in her double standards.”

Janna reached down to pick up her skirt. The passion had fizzled so fast you could practically hear tissues shrivelling. Regret and embarrassment washed over her like an avalanche. But what was that stink? Maybe the cat peed on the carpet. She bent down onto the floor to check. Something under the bed made her catch her breath.

“Rory.” Her voice quivered. “Come look at this.”

He bent down beside her. On the floor was a cat toy, a little purple feathered stuffie filled with cat-nip.

“Cool” said Rory. “But right now I think we should concentrate on —”

“No, look back there.” In the shadows under the bed lay a pile of rotting purple potatoes and a black book with gold lettering on the cover: Pilot’s Log Book.

Katherine Fawcett came to Pemberton for dogsledding, and writes because it’s easier than scooping poop. She has published a children’s book, written a play, short stories and poetry, and contributed feature articles to magazines and newspapers throughout Canada. She wants to learn to play the mandolin and make a decent omelette.

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